*Christianity Today* Has Been Weak in It’s Criticism of Trump, but Perhaps There is Hope for the Future

Tim D

Tim Dalrymple, the President and CEO of Christianity Today Inc.

Though I haven’t written about it here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home until now, I have been disappointed with how Christianity Today has handled the evangelical embrace of Donald Trump.  I know that some of the leadership of the magazine did not agree with everything I wrote in my book Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (while they reviewed the book online, they did not run the review in the print edition).  In fact, a lot of smart evangelicals have questioned my argument.

But over the last year Christianity Today has failed to make a strong prophetic stand against the president.  I understand why the magazine takes such a milquetoast approach to the Trump.  Many of its readers voted for him.  There are constituencies and subscribers to consider.

I still read Christianity Today, I still respond when its reporters call me for context and historical perspective, and I still believe the magazine reflects much of my evangelical faith.  But I have lost some respect for this flagship evangelical publication.

So I was encouraged to read a recent piece by Timothy Dalrymple, the new President and CEO of Christianity Today Inc., titled “On Court Prophets and Wilderness Prophets.” He published it in the immediate wake of Trump’s racist Tweets urging four members of Congress to “go back to your own country.”

Here is a taste:

As for me, I wonder if we have too many court prophets in an era when wilderness prophets are needed. I also wonder if our court prophets are willing to call out sin when they see it. Whether you view Trump as a David or an Antipas, whether you serve at the court of the resplendent king or stand over against the court from the wilderness, one thing Nathan and John the Baptist held in common was that both were willing to condemn unrighteousness in their rulers—even if it cost them everything.

The racial inflection of our political drama adds deeper significance to the moment. White Christians have a long and lamentable history of silence (or worse) when people of color are under attack. On the one hand, I sense today an authentic desire among white Christians to build bridges of relationship and reconciliation with their friends and neighbors of other ethnicities.

Read the entire piece here.  Dalrymple is off to a good start at Christianity Today.  Let’s hope that he proves to be more of a wilderness prophet than a court evangelical.

Timothy Dalrymple is the New President and CEO of *Christianity Today*

Tim D

Timothy Dalrymple will take the helm at Christianity Today on May 1, 2019.

Christianity Today editor Mark Galli reports:

The president-elect was raised in California, where his father served in several pastoral roles. He began to preach and teach at a young age. He was also a national champion gymnast and saw God’s faithfulness in victory and defeat alike. He took his passions for ministry, learning, and athletic achievement with him to Stanford University.

When his gymnastics career ended in a broken neck, he plunged into campus ministry and overseas missions trips. He became president of Stanford’s Campus Crusade (Cru) chapter.

It was also at Stanford where he met his wife, Joyce. Both helped to lead a Christian unity movement on campus that brought together students from all the university’s Christian fellowships to worship God with one another.

After graduating from Stanford with a double major in philosophy and religious studies, Tim earned an MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary and a PhD in modern western religious thought at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Along the way he also served in youth ministry, prison chaplaincy, and graduate and faculty ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Tim’s desire to thoughtfully engage the public square and to find creative ways of sharing the gospel in the new media marketplace found expression after Harvard in his work with the multi-religious website Patheos (2008–2014). First he was managing editor of Patheos’s evangelical channel, then director of content and vice-president of business development.

In 2013 Dalrymple founded Polymath, a creative agency that helps clients with branding, design, web, video, marketing and communications, and content development. Its clients have included the Museum of the Bible, International Justice Mission, the American Enterprise Institute, and Indiana Wesleyan University.

Read the entire piece here.

On a personal note, six or seven years ago Dalrymple recruited me to write a weekly column titled “Confessing History” for Patheos’s “Evangelical Channel.”  He also edited the column.  Tim eventually folded “Confessing History” into the Anxious Bench blog.  I always appreciated his encouragement and support for my work and I wish him well as he moves to Christianity Today.

*Christianity Today* Weighs-In on the Independent Baptist Sex Abuse Scandal

First Baptist Church

Over at Christianity Today, Kate Shellnut covers recent independent Baptist sex-abuse scandal as reported on Sunday by the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.  I tried to offer some historical context on this movement here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home and I am happy to learn Shellnut found it useful for her piece.  Here is a taste:

Around 2.5 percent of Americans identify as independent Baptists, according to the Pew Research Center—more than belong to the Assemblies of God, Churches of Christ, or Episcopal and Anglican churches. Yet independent Baptists, by design, are less familiar to outsiders than other Christian traditions.

For one, they lack a unified presence since individual churches largely operate on their own. The label can be used by a range of autonomous, Bible-believing Baptists (“fundamental” being a reference to the core doctrines of the Christian faith). Independent fundamental Baptist churches include those loosely affiliated in fellowships—more common in the North—as well as those whose pastors may share particular networks—more common in the South— Central Baptist Theological Seminary professor Kevin Bauder told Quick to Listen.

Additionally, many independent Baptist fundamentalists practice “second-degree separatism,” distancing themselves not only from “the world” but also from fellow Christians who do not share their fundamentalist beliefs, noted Messiah College historian John Fea, who researched 20th-century Protestant fundamentalism in America.

During the movement’s formation in the 1940s, and its growth in the decades following, voices such as Jack Hyles and Bob Jones contrasted with “neo-evangelicals” (think Billy Graham) as they remained committed to fundamentalism and separatism, Fea wrote.

These leaders and their institutions—Hyles-Anderson College and Bob Jones University—have come to represent a loose subset of independent Baptists sometimes referred to with capitals or an acronym: Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB).

Read the entire piece here.

John Allen Chau’s Missions Agency Responds to His Death

Chau

John Allen Chau, the missionary killed by an indigenous tribe on an island off the coast of India, was working with an evangelical missions organization called All Nations.  Over at Christianity Today’s “Quick to Listen” podcast, Morgan Lee (have I said yet that she is a former student?) and Mark Galli (editor of CT) talk to Mary Ho, the executive director of All Nations.

Listen here:

Some takeaways:

  • All Nations was founded by Floyd McClung, an “international leader’ of Youth with a Mission (referred to in evangelical circles as Y-WAM).
  • Chau contacted All Nations “about two years ago” and told them about North Sentinel Island and the Sentinelese.
  • Chau believed that his “life call” was to take the Gospel to the Sentinelese.  Ho said that “every decision” Chau made with his life from that point forward was to prepare him to reach the Sentinelese.  This include training in sports medicine, health, exercise science, EMT training, linguistics, missiology, and cultural anthropology.
  • Ho describes him “as a young man who was thorough and meticulous in his preparation.”
  • Ho says that All Nations train people in an approach to missions that “respects the local cultures.”
  • Ho says that Chau had 13-types of immunizations and quarantined himself for several days before he went to North Sentinel Island.  (He was physically fit and exercised daily during his quarantine).
  • All Nations “encourages” its missionaries to travel in groups of two or more.  Others were willing to go to North Sentinel Island with Chau, but Chau decided he wanted to go alone so he did not risk the safety of others.
  • Based on the conversation with Chau, Galli thinks that he was “well-prepared.”

I wish Morgan or Mark would have asked Ho if All Nations endorses Chau’s decision to break Indian law.

With some of this information in hand, Wheaton College missiologist Ed Stetzer has offered his take on Chau’s death in a piece at The Washington Post.

*Christianity Today* Editor Weighs-In on the John MacArthur Social Justice Statement

Good Samaritan

We blogged about MacArthur and his statement here.  Here is a taste of CT editor Mark Galli’s response to the statement:

Anyone involved in social justice ministries is subject to the loss of the transcendent. As Charles Taylor so effectively argued in A Secular Age, we live today in a time that is defined by what he calls “the immanent frame.” At the risk of oversimplifying, this means living as if this world is all there is. This world is reality; the world beyond it is a matter of personal opinion or speculation. In other ages, the world beyond this—the supernatural, the spiritual, the transcendent—was simply assumed and was clearly believed to be the most real.

This is one reason many Christians are more confident making definitive pronouncements about social concerns (the “immanent”) and hesitate to speak boldly about theological concerns (the transcendent). We live in an era dominated by the immanent framing of things, and it takes concerted effort to remember that, as important and vital as our world is, it is but a shadow of the reality beyond us and the reality we will enjoy in the kingdom of heaven.

Social justice activism by its very nature lives day to day within the immanent frame. It is concerned about the horizontal: how states and institutions treat people and how people treat one another. The Christian might be initially motivated by uniquely Christian ideals to engage in social justice efforts, as well she should, but as history shows, it doesn’t take much before the immanent frame starts to frame everything.

So what exactly is the transcendent dimension of social justice for the evangelical Christian? This is something we’ve been arguing about as a movement for some decades. But I would put it this way: The ultimate goal of social justice is the same as the ultimate goal of all our activity for Jesus—whether that be encouraging Bible reading and prayer, loving our next door neighbor, practicing business as mission, or a hundred other things—that all might come to know and love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. If our social justice doesn’t have this end in view, I believe we will soon become nothing but the Democratic or Republican parties at prayer.

Amen.  Thanks, Mark.

Read the entire piece here.

John Inazu Still Believes in Confident Pluralism

Confident PluralismInazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion at Washington University Law School.  He is the author of Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference.  That book was published two years ago and Inazu continues to believe in his thesis.  Here is a taste of his recent piece at Christianity Today:

The premise of confident pluralism is that we can make room for our differences even as we maintain our own beliefs and practices. Doing so requires both legal and personal commitments. When it comes to the law, we must insist that those in power protect our ability to disagree. We must have a shared commitment to allowing for dissent, difference, and divergent beliefs. That means strengthening First Amendment freedoms for everyone.

The personal argument focuses on civic practices rooted in three aspirations: tolerance, humility, and patience. Tolerance acknowledges that people should generally be free to pursue their own beliefs and practices. This is not the same as approval; it is much closer to endurance. We can usually respect people even if we don’t respect their ideas. Humility recognizes that we will sometimes be unable to prove to others why we believe we are right and they are wrong. Patience asks us to listen, understand, and empathize with those who see the world differently.

The American experiment in pluralism depends upon legal commitments and civic practices. And we have usually found ways to maintain a modest unity against great odds. We have always done so imperfectly, and too often our political stability has been purchased at the cost of suppressing or silencing those with less power. But in acknowledging our country’s shortcomings, we can also remember some of its successes. The disagreements between white Protestant men at the founding of our country may seem trivial today, but those differences meant widespread killing in other parts of the world. Our debased and dehumanizing political rhetoric leaves much to be desired, but unlike many other societies, we usually stop short of actual violence. In the midst of deep disagreements with our neighbors, we still find creative partnerships in unexpected places. These examples of our modest unity are important reminders that we can live together across deep differences. On the other hand, they do not suggest that we have or will overcome our differences. As I write in the book’s conclusion, confident pluralism will not give us the American dream, but it might help avoid the American nightmare.

Read the entire piece here.

Fox News Radio Host: “Apparently… There are Some So-Called Evangelical Christians Who Have a Problem With Patriotic Church Services”

Jeffress 2

Listen to Todd Starnes of Fox News and court evangelical Robert Jeffress talk about patriotic worship services.

A preview:

  • Starnes takes a shot at the critics of patriot worship services by calling them “so-called evangelical Christians.”
  • They criticize Michelle Boorstein’s recent Washington Post piece on patriotic sermons.
  • They take some shots at The Gospel Coalition, a group of theologically conservative evangelical Calvinists.  Starnes makes the Gospel Coalition sound like they are some kind of left-wing progressive group.
  • They call Christianity Today and The Washington Post “fake news.”
  • They continue to peddle the false notion that America was founded as a Christian nation.

To be fair, Jeffress does make a good point about anti-Trump evangelicals when he says “they can’t reconcile [President Trump] with their faith.”

Does anyone else see a realignment taking place in American evangelicalism?

*Christianity Today*: America is a “Great and Terrible Nation”

36008-cross-and-flag

Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today, makes it abundantly clear that America was not founded as a Christian nation.  Here is a taste of his July 4th editorial:

The point is this: Can we in any way, shape, or form say that America was founded on Christian principles when its very existence and prosperity were set on a foundation of unimaginable cruelty to millions of other human beings?

This is not to say that America has practiced unparalleled evil in world history. Every nation has sins it needs to repent of. The irony of American history is that a nation founded on subjugation and cruelty nonetheless became a land of freedom and opportunity for millions. It has been and continues to be a beacon of light for refugees across the world. Our economic and justice systems, for all their flaws, make it possible for people to prosper in ways unimaginable in most of the world today. And yes, a few prophetic Christians in their day spoke up about the injustices perpetrated on Native Americans and blacks. And nearly all Americans today deeply regret how we have treated Native Americans, blacks, Chinese, Japanese, and a host of other ethnic and cultural minorities in the past, and most of us rightly continue to deplore injustice in any form—whether it be toward ethnic and racial minorities or (to name one especially grievous injustice) developing children killed before birth.

In short, the United States is a nation like all others, in some ways blessed by God, in some ways standing under God’s judgment. And so it shall be until the Lord returns.

On this and every Independence Day, we can thank God for the many blessings we enjoy, undeserved as they are. We can also repent of the ways we have denied the very values we proclaim in our founding documents and in our Pledge of Allegiance, in which we hold out the ideal of a nation that practices “liberty and justice for all.”

Read the entire piece here.

Kristin Kobes Du Mez Reviews *Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump*

Believe Me 3dKristin Kobes Du Mez teaches history at Calvin College and she is writing a book about evangelical masculinity, militarism, and Donald Trump titled Onward Christian Warriors.  I appreciate her review of my Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump at Christianity Today.

Here is a taste:

John Fea has two intended audiences for his new book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. On the one hand, he dedicates this book “to the 19 percent”—to the segment of white evangelicals who (at least according to exit poll data) voted against Trump in the presidential race. But in another sense, Fea is also writing to the remaining 81 percent, to those who decided that Trump could best advance the cause of Christianity in America.

Fea writes as both a historian (he teaches at Messiah College) and a self-identified evangelical. In this second vein, he offers a sympathetic portrayal of the predicament in which evangelicals found themselves during the 2016 election season. He frames his discussion of the Obama administration as a period of intensifying fear for American evangelicals. Once the Obama administration sided with progressives on the same-sex marriage issue, he writes, it “became relentless in its advocacy of social policies that not only made traditional evangelicals cringe but also infused them with a sense of righteous anger.” According to Fea, the speed with which evangelicals found themselves “marginalized and even threatened” is “difficult to overestimate.” With important institutions seemingly “crumbling around them,” they were increasingly worried about the health of American society. At that point, many Republican candidates were more than willing to exploit these fears for political gain.

Read the entire review here.

*Christianity Today* on the American Bible Society’s New “Affirmation of Biblical Community”

6ac73-abs2bbuilding

The old American Bible Society offices near Columbus Circle in NYC

I was happy to help Kate Shellnut with her excellent piece.  Here is a taste:

Plenty of Christian organizations require employees to sign a statement of faith. For over 200 years, the American Bible Society (ABS) wasn’t one of them.

But now the Philadelphia-based ministry plans to implement an “affirmation of biblical community” next year, requiring all employees to uphold basic Christian beliefs and the authority of Scripture, as well as committing to activities such as church involvement and refraining from sex outside of traditional marriage.

“This is a newsworthy story because the society, since its founding in 1816, has never had a doctrinal statement for employees. In fact, the American Bible Society was built on the idea that the Bible should be distributed ‘without note or comment,’” wrote historian John Fea.

The new affirmation doesn’t signal a brand-new direction for ABS, but reflects a decades-long shift from ecumenical to evangelical, which dates back to changes in the ’90s, chronicled in Fea’s book, The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society.

“The organization now feels comfortable enough in its evangelical identity to make such a formal statement of its beliefs,” which includes some evangelical parlance but would easily be embraced by orthodox Christians across traditions, Fea told CT. “The gay employees and the more ecumenical Christians who worked for the ABS should have seen this coming.”

Read the entire piece here.

Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Sr. Aided a Southern Baptist Victim of Abuse

PaigePatterson(2)

Autumn Miles tells her #metoo story at Christianity Today.  Writing in the context of recent remarks by Southwestern Baptist Seminary’s Paige Patterson, Miles credits Robert Jeffress and the late Jerry Falwell Sr. for helping deal with an abusive husband.

Here is a taste of her piece:

When I was in the midst of divorce, my father called our good family friend, Jerry Falwell Sr., founder of Liberty University, to ask his counsel on how to handle the situation. He told my father, “Tell your daughter to get away from that marriage and come to Liberty, where she can meet a young man who will treat her right.”

Years later, when my second husband (whom I did indeed meet at Liberty) and I were speaking with Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, I shared my story with him. He looked me in the eye and said, “What that church did to you was wrong.”

“It is never God’s will for a woman to endure physical abuse to keep a sick marriage alive,” he later told me. “God hates violence. In fact, the reason he gave in Genesis 6 for destroying the world was because of unbridled violence. To abuse another person is to abuse someone God created in his image; it is tantamount to abusing God himself.” (Jeffress has recently commented on the Patterson case.)

I had two Southern Baptist leaders affirm God’s love for me and his desire to use my story for his kingdom. Those two men gave me hope that someday, a change would come to the SBC. That day is today. As I track Patterson’s case and the larger conversation around it, I see the spirit of God working to bring freedom to the hearts of those who’ve been captured by domestic violence. Jesus came to set the captives free, and through these brave men and women, the bondage of domestic violence is being lifted.

Read the entire piece here.  These are the acts of compassion and love that we should expect from our evangelical pastors.

Paige Patterson “does not often get criticized without the critic receiving significant backlash”

ppatterson-homepage-main-image

Ed Stetzer‘s piece at Christianity Today confirms everything I have heard about Paige Patterson’s authoritarian rule at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Stetzer writes in the wake of this.

Here is a taste:

Because of the Conservative Resurgence and the role that he has played for decades, Patterson is one of the most significant leaders in SBC life, and one who does not often get criticized without the critic receiving significant backlash.

I know this first hand.

In 2008, I first publicly criticized Southwestern for the way certain faculty members were (repeatedly) registering disagreement with the results of our research. That day, several SBC leaders told me it was my last day as an SBC employee. As one son of an SBC entity told me, “Nobody criticizes Paige Patterson and keeps their job.”

I still have the letter from Patterson. It was not the last.

Stetzer goes on to chronicle some of Patterson’s recent antics.

Here is Stetzer on Paige Patterson’s role in the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Church in the late 1970:

In the aftermath of the Conservative Resurgence, the SBC made a mistake. We spent more time taking victory laps than really leading. We let our history become mythology. We turned men into heroes, and then we turned our heroes into gods.

What we really needed to do was be about our mission and hold each other accountable…

…Patterson, in a sense, built an era. I am glad. I am a Southern Baptist today because of its inerrantist theology, and I’ve personally benefited from that era and from the SBC that he helped create.

But many SBC leaders I know think this and privately acknowledge that it is time for a new era.

They can’t say it because of the unofficial rules, so let me say it.

If Patterson preaches at the SBC, he will, because of his past work, get a standing ovation. Every news story will point to that moment, tie it together with the accusations against Paul Pressler, and say that Southern Baptists don’t take abuse seriously.

And it’s not just a public relations crisis. It’s a message to women that we must not send.

I think a better way forward is to think of the SBC’s future mission rather than Paige Patterson’s past success, and I hope he desires the same for the SBC he gave his life to.

Thank you, Dr. Patterson, for your service. You did the right thing when it was hard. Now, let me encourage you to do so again. Thank you for thinking first of the SBC as you step into a well-earned retirement.

Read Stetzer’s entire piece here.

Southern Baptist pastor Wade Burleson is also calling for Patterson’s retirement.

Evangelicals and Lent

Ancient FaithWhen I converted to Protestantism from Catholicism as a teenager, my family joined an evangelical congregation that did not observe Lent.  I never really wondered why this was the case.  I just assumed it was another aspect of my Catholic upbringing that I now needed to cast aside.  Years later, as I began to reconnect with some of the good things about my Catholic upbringing, I started to take Lent more seriously and began to observe Lent again, albeit inconsistently.

Over at The Anxious Bench, Chris Gehrz has a very interesting piece titled “When Did Evangelicals Start Observing Lent?”  His post is built around articles on Lent in Christianity Today, former Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield attempts to revive Lent among evangelicals, the liturgical revival in evangelicalism associated with the work of the late Robert E. Webber, and Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline.

Here is a taste:

Protestants, explained writer Andrew Sandella, had inherited the Reformers’ wariness of Lent and its most distinctive discipline. He repeated the oft-told story of the sausage controversy in Ulrich Zwingli’s Zürich, noted Martin Luther’s criticism of fasting as a kind of works-righteousness, and alluded to John Calvin’s anti-Lent diatribe in The Institutes:

Then the superstitious observance of Lent had everywhere prevailed: for both the vulgar imagined that they thereby performed some excellent service to God, and pastors commended it as a holy imitation of Christ… in this splendid display they think that they serve God. I do not mention that at no time do those who would be thought the holiest of them wallow more foully. In short, the highest worship of God is to abstain from flesh, and, with this reservation, to indulge in delicacies of every kind. On the other hand, it is the greatest impiety, impiety scarcely to be expiated by death, for any one to taste the smallest portion of hacan or rancid flesh with his bread. (IV, 12)

But I’m not sure it’s that simple. Digging a bit, I think it’s more accurate to say that American evangelicals have been conflicted about Lent for some time now.

Read the rest here.

The Editor of *Christianity Today* Weighs-In on the Perkins and Falwell Jr. Debacle

CT

Christianity Today usually tries to stay out of the political fray.  Frankly, I was somewhat surprised that they were willing to let me write so freely about Ted Cruz during the 2016 campaign.  (The piece actually won an award).  I respect the folks at CT and I am always impressed by their reporting on evangelicalism and politics.  Court evangelical Robert Jeffress has described those affiliated with the CT approach to politics as the “Christianity Today crowd.”  (Count me as one of the crowd!)

Earlier this week, editor Mark Galli (check out his new book on Karl Barth) weighed-in on the Tony Perkins “mulligan” and Jerry Falwell Jr.’s wacky comments and tweets.

Here is a taste of his piece:

To be fair to Perkins, however, the call to turn the other cheek is not a universal guideline for Christian behavior. It is a very good guideline in many, many situations, and one Christians should instinctively start with. But it doesn’t take deep imagination to recognize that Jesus does not call us to simply absorb evil in every instance. He certainly didn’t. He called out the Pharisees in the strongest language—“hypocrites,” “blind fools,” “sons of vipers” (Matt. 23)—and he turned over the tables in the Temple and drove out the money changers with a whip (John 2:15).

In the same vein, we rightly tell women they should not simply turn the other cheek when a man sexually assaults them. Similarly, African Americans who are abused by the system should fight for justice. And so on and so forth. Christianity is not a passive faith in the face of evil, but one that encourages and models courage and standing up to evil, along with the virtues of patience and forbearance.

This is one reason being a Christian is so hard at times. It takes a fair amount of wisdom to discern when and how these various virtues come into play in any given situation. I’m making a larger exegetical point here: We Christians should not reflexively default to one set of virtues when we’re trying to craft or critique public policy. So formally Perkins is right to suggest that.

Galli is much harder on Falwell Jr.  Read the rest here.

Court Evangelical Robert Jeffress and the “Christianity Today Crowd”

jeffress

Back in July 2017, I called attention to a growing divide in American evangelicalism.  It looks like court evangelical Robert Jeffress agrees with me.  I also think Jeffress is right  when he says that Trump did not create the divide, but exacerbated it.

In this interview with Christian conservative radio host Janet Mefferd, Jeffress identified anti-Trump evangelicals as the “evangelical elite” and the “Christianity Today crowd.”  According to Jeffress, this divide in evangelicalism is not merely about different views on Christianity and government.  Nope.  The divide is between “evangelicals who take the Bible seriously, and those who don’t.”

Here’s a thought.  Instead of evangelicals in the “Christianity Today crowd” abandoning the label “evangelical,”  I think we should fight to keep the label and bring back the word “fundamentalist” to describe people like Jeffress.

Listen:

By the way, I can’t wait to tell some of my non-college-educated, working class friends who did not vote for Trump that they are part of the evangelical “elite.”

A Monument to Lynching in America

EKI

I am glad to see Christianity Today tackling this issue.  Some of you are familiar with the work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Imitative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. I had a chance to visit EJI this summer.  Stevenson was also the Messiah College commencement speaker in May 2017.  He is the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

EJI is a fascinating and moving place that combines the history of lynching in America with the reform of the criminal justice system as it relates to death row inmates.  I wrote about my visit here.

When I was in Montgomery I learned about EJI’s plans to build a monument to lynching in America.  D.L. Mayfield writes about it in Christianity Today’s September 2017 cover story.

Here is a taste:

Stevenson became enamored with the idea of creating spaces for truth telling. “We don’t have many places in our country where you can have an honest experience with our history of slavery, and there are no spaces where you can have an honest experience with lynchings and racial terror,” he said. (There are outliers in unexpected places, such as a memorial in Duluth, Minnesota, honoring three black members of a traveling circus who were lynched there in 1920.)

So Stevenson decided to make one. Next summer, EJI will unveil a memorial where visitors will be confronted with large tablets hanging from a square structure, visual reminders of more than 800 counties where lynchings took place. The visual—so many markers engraved with so many names—will transform a hill overlooking downtown Montgomery, Alabama, into a place of mourning and remembrance, a place to lament and perhaps even to corporately confess.

The Memorial for Peace and Justice, as it will be called, will also encompass a field spreading next to the main structure. In that field, each hanging tablet will have an identical twin resting on the ground, invoking an eerie similarity to headstones. These markers will be for the counties themselves to collect. Stevenson dreams of groups journeying to Montgomery, collecting their rightful part of lynching history, and displaying it prominently back in their towns and cities. If people from a particular locale choose not to claim their piece, it will sit in stark relief on that Montgomery hilltop, a conspicuous token of unowned sin.

Read the entire piece here.